Landmark court ruling declares transphobic school bathroom ban to be ‘unconstitutional’

Gavin Grimm Virginia trans bathroom ban

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Virginia school’s ban on trans people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity is unconstitutional.

Gavin Grimm, 21, was just 15 when his mother told the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia that he was trans.

After several months of using the boys’ bathroom, parents of other children complained. Grimm was subsequently told that he would have to use the girls’ toilet or private bathroom facilities.

Grimm scored a major victory in 2019 when a judge ruled that the school’s policy was “discriminatory”.

The case was referred on to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled Wednesday (August 26) that denying trans people the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity is “unconstitutional” and violates Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

In his judgement, justice Henry Franklin Floyd wrote: “At the heart of this appeal is whether equal protection and Title IX can protect transgender students from school bathroom policies that prohibit them from affirming their gender. We join a growing consensus of courts in holding that the answer is resoundingly yes.

All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are.

Floyd continued: “Grimm suffered from stigma, from urinary tract infections from bathroom avoidance, and from suicidal thoughts that led to hospitalisation.

“Nevertheless, he persevered in his transition.”

Gavin Grimm has fought for trans people to be seen for who they are.

In a statement released through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has represented him throughout his five-year legal battle, Grimm said: “All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government.”

Speaking last year following his initial legal victory, Grimm said he had continued his fight well past his school years for “trans youth across America”.

Grimm’s lawsuit became a federal test case when then-president Barack Obama scheduled it to be sent to the Supreme Court in 2017.

But after president Donald Trump rescinded Obama’s directive regarding students choosing bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, the Supreme Court date was cancelled.